Featured Apple says sorry for Maps, but is it too late?

For many smartphone operators, Google Maps was one of the most used applications.

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It would tap into GPS technology to locate live positions on a map, create routes, and search destinations relatively reliably.

The app came preinstalled on all iPhones, until Apple launched the new iPhone 5 and iOS6 mobile operating system, which many users with older iPhone devices downloaded.

In its latest version, Apple deleted YouTube which is owned by Google but can still be downloaded as an app, along with Google Maps, replacing it with its own Apple Maps app.

It however, has been slammed by users because it incorrectly labelled some cities and countries, misplaced some landmarks, along with some distorted images of key infrastructure.

It wasn’t up to Apple’s usual high standard, and the company knew it.

Overnight, its CEO, Tim Cook took the unusual step to post an apology on the company’s website.

He acknowledged the criticism of the new software saying, “At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers” adding, “With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment.”

Mr Cook said, as more people used Apple Maps, the better it will get.

He did however, suggest unhappy customers use competitors’ map apps in the meantime.

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.”

It raises the question, will Apple’s move to launch, by its own admission, an inferior replacement to Google Maps, hurt its brand?

Technology commentator, Trevor Long tells me, “Apple as a company is not used to doing things badly, Apple Maps is a disappointment to the company, and will be ‘that thing’ that pundits use to chip away at the brand for years ahead. So in that sense, there is definitely brand damage.”

“But in reality, the company is judged on a lot more than one App. The iPhone 5 is its best selling phone ever, and the financial results won’t show any indication of the ‘map problem’. The bigger question is, would this have happened under Steve Jobs, and is that a sign of future brand damage?”

The other question is, are there more teething problems with the operating system?

There is anecdotal evidence of Wi-Fi connection problems on older iPhone models running iOS6 and more frequent coverage dropouts.

Don’t forget, the other issues that came along with previous iPhone launches. The iPhone 4 had problems with its internal antenna if held in a certain way, so Apple offered a free case to try to fix that. Then the iPhone 4S disappointed some people because Siri, the voice personal assist didn’t live up to their expectations by not always understanding spoken actions.

Still, all of that hasn’t stopped enthusiasts from hitting Apple stores. Apple has sold five million iPhone 5s during the first three days in stores last week, and that doesn’t include the devices sold online.

Investors though, have sold down the stock, closing at US$667.10 on the Nasdaq overnight, down from an all time high of US$705.07 reached last week.

Have you encountered problems with the iPhone5 or iOS6?

Featured Tomahawk no certainty for Swans clash

Geelong won’t throw caution to the wind in their bid to lock up a top-two berth, with gun forward Tom Hawkins no certainty to return for Saturday’s crunch AFL clash with Sydney at Simonds Stadium.

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Hawkins missed his team’s 66-point win over West Coast due to a back injury that had been causing him increasing pain in recent weeks.

The 25-year-old struggled to even bend over a week earlier against Port Adelaide, and will be monitored closely on the training track over the next few days to determine his availability.

With just two rounds remaining, Geelong are in the box seat to finish second and secure a home qualifying final.

But they will be in danger of finishing as low as fourth if they lose to defending premiers Sydney.

Geelong coach Chris Scott is optimistic Hawkins will be fit to take on the Swans.

But Scott is adamant the high-stakes nature of the match won’t influence his decision on whether to play Hawkins.

“He’ll be OK to train early in the week and we’ll push him reasonably hard,” Scott said.

“These things can be a little bit fluid.

“The early prognosis is that he has benefited from the lighter week on the track and from some of the intervention the medical staff have used.

“By Tuesday we will have a pretty good idea as to whether he’s going to play.

“Even though the game is crucially important, we will value four weeks’ time more than this weekend as far as Tom.

“We’re optimistic, but at the same time a little cautious.”

A fit-and-firing Hawkins is vital to Geelong’s chances of winning their fourth flag since 2007.

Hawkins was a key figure in Geelong’s 2011 premiership, booting three goals and setting up another in their grand final win over Collingwood.

But even if the 197cm spearhead isn’t fully fit, Geelong have enough weapons to win the flag.

Their offensive prowess was on full display against the Eagles, with midfielder Joel Selwood continuing his impressive recent run in front of the sticks with four goals in the 16.11 (107) to 6.5 (41) triumph.

Selwood booted just 33 goals in his first 97 games.

But in the past five weeks alone, the 25-year-old has kicked 14 goals, with Geelong’s only loss during that period coming against North Melbourne in round 19 when Selwood failed to kick a goal.

Cats veteran Paul Chapman made it through another VFL hit-out on Saturday and is in line to return against the Swans, while Steven Motlop is also set to be available despite being subbed out at half-time against the Eagles with hamstring tightness.

Featured Wiggins to return to track for Olympics

Former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins is planning a return to the track ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, he told a British newspaper in an interview published Monday.

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Wiggins made history last year when he became the first ever Briton to win the sport’s greatest stage race, but he has since been surpassed by compatriot and Sky teammate Chris Froome, who triumphed at this year’s Grand Boucle.

Wiggins, now 33, admits he cannot challenge Froome for the Team Sky leadership and says he will now aim to add to his four Olympic gold medals.

“I’m going to continue to the next Olympics and try for a fifth gold on the track, that’s the plan,” he told the Times newspaper.

“Having lost weight and muscle the last few years, I wouldn’t be able to walk back into that team pursuit squad, so I am not taking it for granted but I am working towards that.

“It would be nice to finish the career with another Olympic gold.”

Wiggins won individual pursuit gold in 2004 in Athens and in 2008 in Beijing, where he also won the team pursuit.

In London 2012 he won the time trial on the road and he has seven Olympic medals in total dating back to a bronze in the team pursuit in Sydney in 2000.

However, he says he will spend another season riding on the road before making the change in 2015, giving himself 18 months to prepare for the Olympics.

And although he previously said he would not ride another Tour, he now feels he would be prepared to be Froome’s domestique.

“I don’t mind admitting that Chris is probably a better Grand Tour rider than me,” he said.

“He is a much better climber, he can time trial as well.

“He has age on his side, he has no kids. That’s fine.

“If Chris wants to, he could potentially win five tours now. So if I want to win another tour, I’d probably have to leave the team (Sky).

“I love this team. This is my home. I’m not going to go: ‘I want to be leader so I’m off’.”

Wiggins missed the defence of his Tour crown due to injury and illness.

He had pulled out of the Giro d’Italia in May due to illness and then a knee injury disrupted his preparations for the Tour.

Up until that point he had insisted he wanted to lead Team Sky in France, even though boss Dave Brailsford had publically backed Froome for the role.

But Wiggins claimed he was always prepared to follow team orders.

“At this team, everyone is encouraged to be as good as they can be,” he said.

“I felt, as the defending champion, I was quite entitled to put my hand up and say ‘I would like to be considered for the leadership’.

“But if someone is chosen over me I am professional enough to do my job.”

Bolt is the best in the world, ever – official

Bolt followed up the 100 and 200m double with his third gold in the final event, taking his all-time tally to eight.

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That matches American trio Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson and Allyson Felix but the Jamaican moved ahead by virtue of his two silvers from 2007.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce also completed the hat-trick as Jamaica won the women’s 4×100 relay in the second-fastest time ever, giving them all six sprint golds in Moscow to bring a smile back to the Caribbean island following the doping cloud surrounding the build-up to Moscow.

On a high-quality final day, there was a Kenyan middle-distance double as Asbel Kiprop retained his 1,500 metres title and Eunice Sum took a surprise gold in the women’s 800.

Frenchman Teddy Tamgho delivered the third-longest leap in history as he soared 18.04 metres to win the triple jump and Christina Obergfoell’s javelin victory gave Germany their fourth field event gold.

Traditionally athletics programmes ended with the 4x400m relay but such is Bolt’s worldwide selling power that recent events have been rejigged to ensure the Jamaican gets top billing.

Jamaica were pipped by Britain in the heats but the favourites drafted in Bolt and Nickel Ashmeade, while the U.S., unusually, used the same four in their evening heat as in the final.

Initially it seemed to be working in the Americans’ favour as they led approaching the final bend but Rakieem Salaam’s handover to Justin Gatlin left the individual 100m runner-up off balance. He clearly strayed into the Jamaicans’ lead outside him but somehow escaped disqualification.

It made no difference to Bolt, who streaked clear to complete victory in 37.36 seconds, the sixth-fastest ever, with the U.S. in 37.66

Britain, another nation with a painful history of relay foul ups, crossed the line third but were disqualified for a late changeover. That promoted Canada on to the podium and somewhat made amends for the 2012 Olympics when they were disqualified after finishing third.

Bolt delighted the crowed with a celebratory Cossack dance, not easy for someone 6ft 5ins (1.95 metres) tall, before parading round the track with his three medals on show for 50,000 flashing cameras.

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America’s women also got it horribly wrong, although they managed a super-human recovery to claim bronze.

English Gardner had come to a complete standstill by the time she finally collected the baton for the third leg but a brilliant bend and an astounding last leg by Octavious Freeman took the U.S. through half the field for bronze behind France.

By then Jamaica’s quartet of Carrie Russell, Kerron Stewart, Schillonie Calvert and Fraser-Pryce were celebrating their win in 41.29, second only to America’s 40.82 set at last year’s Olympics and inside the drug-fuelled 41.37 of East Germany that stood for 27 years.

Having become the fourth-fastest 1,500m runner of all time last month, Kiprop started hot favourite and nobody could live with his long-striding acceleration over the last 200 metres as he triumphed in 3:36.28.

American Matthew Centrowitz took silver and South African Johan Cronje a surprise bronze as both men finished strongly.

Sum’s victory was much less expected as her late burst denied Russia’s Mariya Savinova back-to-back 800m titles.

She took gold in 1:57.38, ahead of Savinova (1:57.80). Brenda Martinez grabbed third as she overhauled compatriot Alysia Johnson Montano, who had run a brave front-running race but ended fourth, flat on the track and sobbing uncontrollably.

Tamgho was already leading when he landed two fouls around the 18 metre mark before nailing the breakthrough distance with his last. Only American Kenny Harrison (18.09) and Jonathan Edwards’s 1995 world record of 18.29 are longer.

Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Cuba took silver with 17.68 and American Will Claye was third on 17.52, well clear of out-of-sorts compatriot and world and Olympic champion Christian Taylor in a frustrated fourth.

After years of agonising near misses, an emotional Obergfoell took her first major javelin title at the age of 31 after throwing a season’s best 69.05 metres.

Defending champion Maria Abakumova could only manage 65.09 behind surprise Australian runner-up Kimberly Mickle (66.60), to match the bronze her husband Dmitri Tarabin won in the men’s final.

Obergfoell had previously won two silvers as well as finishing second and third at the last two Olympics.

Russia topped the medal table with seven golds, though the Americans will promote themselves top under their counting system after finishing second on six but also gathering a mountain of 13 silvers in a total of 25.

Jamaica also had six golds with Kenya on five, Germany four and Ethiopia and Britain both on three.

After signing off with a near-full house on Sunday following a week of poor crowds, the IAAF will be delighted to send their showpiece event to Beijing in 2015 and London two years later as returning to the most recent Olympic stadiums should guarantee healthy attendances throughout.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Inquest probes Vic garbage chute death

A concierge who found the body of a Melbourne woman beneath a garbage chute was repeatedly visited by a man claiming her death was a suicide, an inquest has heard.

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Phoebe Handsjuk, 24, plunged 12 floors down the chute at a luxury Melbourne apartment complex where she lived with her partner Antony Hampel in December 2010.

Police found she had committed suicide but her family has questioned the competence of their investigation, the opening of the inquest into the death has heard.

Complex concierge Betul Ozulup told the Victorian Coroners Court the page in her logbook for the day Ms Handsjuk died had been mysteriously ripped out.

She said a friend of Mr Hampel also began visiting her every two to three days in the weeks after she had discovered Ms Handsjuk’s body.

The man brought wine and chocolates and told her Ms Handsjuk had been depressed and Mr Hampel had tried everything to help her, Ms Ozulup said.

“He said ‘She couldn’t be saved, she didn’t want to be saved’,” she said.

The man visited her for two weeks until Ms Ozulup told him it was upsetting her, she said.

Counsel assisting the inquest Deborah Siemensma told Coroner Peter White he would be asked to determine if the death was accidental, suicide or whether another person was involved.

Ms Handsjuk was being treated for depression and had traces of alcohol, an anti-depressant and the sleeping pill Stilnox in her system when she died.

Ms Siemensma said the inquest will be told that Stilnox can cause bizarre behaviour such as sleep walking and driving.

But she said the involvement of another person in Ms Handsjuk’s death cannot be totally discounted on the evidence.

Tests had shown it was difficult to climb into the opening of the chute, which was small and one metre from the ground.

“If she was minded to take her life why would she choose such a strange way to do so,” Ms Siemensma said.

The inquest continues.

Gear failure hits Team NZ to level series

Team New Zealand have pulled out of the second race of the America’s Cup challenger series final with an electric gear failure, leaving their best-of-13 match against Luna Rossa locked at 1-1.

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The Italian syndicate completed the course on San Francisco Bay to lodge their first win over the New Zealand outfit since the Louis Vuitton Cup series began six weeks ago.

Strong winds forced the day’s second race to be called off, leaving the final all-square after two days dominated by boat malfunctions.

Team NZ were about 400m ahead as they approached the third mark on Sunday when they suddenly slowed because of a hydraulic fault which prevented the boat from tacking or gibing.

Skipper Dean Barker says they were “crippled” when the electric system that controls the hydraulics of the daggerboard failed inexplicably.

“It’s the nature of these boats unfortunately – there are so many things that can go wrong and today it was a problem with the hydraulics,” Team NZ skipper Dean Barker said.

“We have been very fortunate so far not to have had many issues until today but I guess this just reinforces the need to be 100 per cent.”

Support staff boarded the boat and had repaired the problem ahead of race three, which was subsequently postponed.

It is unclear if the issue was related to a spectacular incident in race one on Saturday in which Team NZ nosedived at high speed, sending two sailors overboard.

Team officials played down the significance of that incident, which damaged carbon fibre fairings.

The New Zealanders went on to win race one after Luna Rossa suffered daggerboard damage.

As has been the case throughout the regatta, New Zealand dominated the start on Sunday, opening up a lead of 23 seconds by the second mark before their problem struck.

Luna Rossa helmsman Chris Draper was happy to secure his team’s first win.

He says rough conditions and intense racing schedule are contributing towards the breakages.

“We’re pushing the boats and loading the wings up way harder,” he said.

Race three and four are scheduled to be sailed on Monday.

Earlier, it was the turn of America’s Cup holders Team Oracle USA to suffer damage to one of their two boats.

A boat skippered by Ben Ainslie was forced to limp back to the team base after snapping a rudder.

Oracle say the incident was the result of a damage caused a day before, when the boat tangled with a buoy.

Oracle will defend the America’s Cup next month against either Team NZ or Luna Rossa.

Russia to build seven new stadiums

The Russian sports ministry has selected a state controlled firm to build seven new stadiums for the 2018 World Cup, the Vedomosti daily reports.

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Russia has already selected 11 cities to host matches in the World Cup but several venues still need to be built from scratch in one of the most ambitious engineering projects in post-Soviet history.

Vedomosti said all the stadiums which need to be built or reconstructed with state financing will be constructed by a state firm attached to the sports ministry called Sport Engineering.

Citing a confirmed construction plan programme, it said that 104.4 billion rubles ($A3.5 billion) had been earmarked from the budget for the construction of the stadiums.

The company will build six stadiums from scratch in Volgograd, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara and Saransk. It will also rebuild the stadium in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

Each stadium will have a capacity of 45,000, it added.

Of the other stadiums, three are being built with financing from Russian regional governments and private investors – the Luzhniki and Spartak venues in Moscow and the Gazprom Arena in Saint Petersburg.

The stadium in the Volga city of Kazan, which this year hosted the Universiade world student games, is already operational.

Meanwhile, the stadium in Sochi will be ready for its hosting of the Winter Olympic Games in 2014.

Vedomosti said government sources emphasised that Sport Engineering would merely be carrying out a confirmed construction plan and would not become a mammoth conglomerate.

“The ministry of sport will be responsible for the construction and Sport Engineering is just the technical contractor, it’s not right to say that the construction money will be channelled through it,” a government source told the paper.

The complete absence of usable stadiums in half the Russian host cities has caused anxiety in some quarters although FIFA has expressed satisfaction with Russia’s preparations so far.

There has also been concern about local issues such as the location of the stadium in Yekaterinburg, which is next door to the city’s prison.

Aust golfer Goss in US Amateur final

Australian teenager Oliver Goss is one win away from the US Amateur championship title – and starts in three of next year’s golf majors.

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Goss, 19, beat good friend and fellow West Australian Brady Watt 2-up in his semi-final on Saturday to set up a showdown with England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick in the 36-hole final on the historic course at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Watt planned to stick around to caddy for Goss in the championship match against Fitzpatrick, 18, who scored a 2-and-1 win over Canada’s Corey Conners in the other semi and is bidding to become the first Englishman to win the title since 1911.

Royal Fremantle member Goss can become the third Australian winner, following Nick Flanagan in 2003 and three-time champion Walter J. Travis (1900, 1901, 1903).

Both Goss and Watt have already earned starts in next year’s US Open by reaching the semi-finals, while the title winner also gets into the 2014 Masters and 2014 British Open, all provided they remain amateur.

Experience gained when reaching the quarter-finals of the US Amateur last year paid off for Goss against second seed Watt.

An All-American as a freshman at the University of Tennessee last year, Goss grabbed a 2-up lead after seven holes with a 10-foot uphill birdie putt on the 4th hole and a nine-footer for birdie on the par-3 seventh.

Watt, who arrived in the United States for the first time on June 28, regrouped by holing an 11-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 8th before pulling level with a par on the 10th.

But Goss regained the lead for good on the 11th hole with an 18-foot birdie putt.

He kept that advantage by sinking a 30-foot par putt to halve the demanding 509-yard, par-4 14th and played out the remaining holes in par to win.

“I used a lot of my experience from last year,” said Goss.

“I can remember a lot of the shots I hit and a lot of the feelings that I had.”

Watt readily admitted Goss was better on the day.

“Whatever I did really well, he kind of did a little bit better,” said Watt.

Green-Tregaro makes colourful statement on gay law

The controversial legislation, which was passed in June, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and has become a political hot potato ahead next year’s Sochi Winter Olympics, when it will apply to athletes and spectators.

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“It felt right,” Green-Tregaro told reporters, showing them her brightly coloured nails painted in red, yellow, gold, blue and purple.

“I wouldn’t say it was a protest more of a statement of what I think,” said the 28-year-old, adding she knew of one more Swedish athlete who had done it, 200 metres runner Moa Hjelmer.

Green-Tregaro, who qualified for Saturday’s final, got the idea after seeing a rainbow over Moscow shortly after her arrival in the Russian capital for the championships at Luzhniki stadium.

“When I first came to Moscow, the first thing I saw when I opened the curtains was a rainbow over Moscow and I thought that was a pretty good sign,” the 2005 world bronze medallist said.

“I hadn’t thought about it before then I decided to paint my nails. I usually do my nails in something that feels good for me and it was a simple way of showing what I think.”

World 800 metres silver medallist Nick Symmonds was more vocal in his criticism of the law in a blog for Runner’s World magazine earlier this month.

“These laws, which do not expressly prohibit being homosexual, criminalise public discussion of homosexuality, especially with foreigners,” he said.

“As an American, I believe in freedom of speech and equality for all, and therefore disagree with the laws that Russia has put in place.”

Foreign competitors and spectators in Sochi next year will have to abide by the law banning “gay propaganda”, which has led to some to call for a boycott of the Games.

Critics of the law have said it effectively disallows all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals.

Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it had sought clarification from Russia on how the law would be applied.

(Editing by John O’Brien)

Ricardo’s Business> ANZ calls August rate rise

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He’s the first major economist to make the call, following yesterday’s inflation data, which showed underlying inflation edging at the high end of the RBA’s target band of 2 to 3 per cent.

Mr Hogan says a small upward adjustment to interest rates now could well save the Australian economy from a painful series of hikes in 2012.

In fact, if indeed we do see a rate rise next week, ANZ doesn’t expect another increase until mid-2012.

The bank notes, the most likely factor that could keep the RBA on hold in August would be a significant deterioration in the US debt situation.

The RBA however, meets a few hours before the August 2nd deadline, for the US to agree on a new debt plan.

It comes as AMP Capital Chief Economist, Shane Oliver said today, that the latest CPI data shouldn’t be enough to warrant a move on interest rates because of the uncertainties surrounding the global economy, weak household demand and the strong Australian dollar. Instead, he believes the most likely outcome, is an extended period of rates on hold.

What makes this story so interesting, is that a fortnight ago, Bill Evans, the Global Head of Economics at Westpac, and interestingly Warren Hogan’s old boss ten years ago, made the brave call that the next interest rate move would be down.

Following Westpac’s Consumer Sentiment survey which pointed to a dramatic fall in confidence, Mr Evans predicted the RBA would cut interest rates four times by the September quarter of next year, starting with a 25 basis point cut in December.

The RBA will announce its decision at 230pm AEST on Tuesday.

Demons up for the challenge of rising Suns

Despite two losses with a margin totalling 159 points, including giving Greater Western Sydney their first win of the AFL season, Melbourne Demons coach Neil Craig says they’re approaching their clash with Gold Coast with optimism.

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The Demons travel to Metricon Stadium to meet the Suns on Saturday night, continuing their battle with GWS to avoid the wooden spoon.

They will do so without star forward Chris Dawes who has failed to overcome a calf injury.

Given a 122-point hiding by North Melbourne, interim coach Craig said there were enough signs in their 37-point loss to the Giants to suggest they could challenge the rising Suns.

Bookmakers don’t agree, rating Demons a $6.25 chance of victory.

“The North Melbourne performance was really poor, one of the most disappointing losses for the year,” Craig said.

“The GWS one needs to be kept in perspective.

“It’s more the fact that GWS is two years of age as a club and hadn’t won a game but in reality, the playing groups in terms of their profiles are not dissimilar.

“I was more disappointed with the North game.”

Craig pointed to statistics like his side still being in the game at three-quarter time, solid contested ball and stoppage work and improved ball movement as positive signs.

He lamented their costly unforced error count and inability to challenge GWS in the final term.

“Some of the football that GWS has played is very, very good.

“It’s disrespectful to GWS to say no-one should beat you.”

Craig said it was important for players to continue to give their all until the final round of the competition.

“We need to play the season right out irrespective of scoreboard or circumstance and that’s the path we will go down.

“We’re not interested in people who are putting the cue in the rack.”

The Demons are considering giving young tall defender Troy Davis his AFL debut after some consistent performances in the VFL.

Craig still hadn’t made a decision about whether he wanted to apply for the role on a permanent basis.

He said he was still waiting to see if he fulfilled the yet-to-be announced criteria of coach that the Demons board was looking for.

Tommy Danielson wins Tour of Utah

American Tommy Danielson won the Tour of Utah on Sunday, despite finishing third behind Spain’s Francisco Macebo in the sixth stage.

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Danielson, riding for Garmin-Sharp, finished with an overall time of 23 hours, 5 minutes, 45 seconds. He was second Saturday in the fifth stage.

The difference for Danielson ended up being the final climb over Empire Pass. He left nothing to chance, breaking away from the Peloton at the start of the climb and creating a large enough time gap to give himself a cushion on the descent into Park City.

Danielson calculated the risk of burnout from pushing so hard early in the climb. He kept a steady pace to the top to position himself for the overall win.

“I knew that the climb was suited well to me – being steep like that for a long time and at altitude,” Danielson said. “So I knew I had to take everyone to their limits, including myself, and try to get away at the bottom.”

Macebo, riding for 5-Hour Energy, earned the stage victory after catching Danielson and passing him on the final 3 kilometres. Macebo crossed the finish line in 3:12:52.

He led for most of the race after joining an initial group of 15 riders that broke out in front. Macebo stayed strong even as others in the group faded away in the Wasatch Mountains.

“I hit the climb and tried to find my own pace without getting too nervous,” Macebo said through a translator. “I wanted to be focused on my own pace more than any gap or any descent with the rest of the guys.”

Colombia’s Janier Alexis Acevedo, riding for Jamis-Hagens Berman, finished a bike-length behind Macebo.

Danielson placed 4 seconds behind the winner after leading for 5 miles when he overtook Macebo on Empire Pass.

Chris Horner, the overall leader after the fifth stage, finished second overall – 1:29 behind Danielson. Acevedo’s strong finish boosted him to third, 1:37 behind Danielson. American Lucas Euser was fourth at 2:02 back, and countryman Matthew Busche finished fifth at 2:06 back.

Australian sprinter Michael Matthews claimed two stage victories during the Tour.

Malaria concerns over Manus asylum plans

The federal government has been criticised for not ruling out sending pregnant women and children to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea to have their asylum applications processed, despite them being put at risk from malaria.

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Critics say young children and pregnant women can’t be treated with anti-malarial drugs.

 

Murray Silby reports.

 

The federal government has staked its political credibility in relation to the asylum seeker issue on its regional settlement arangement with Papua New Guinea.

 

Under the arangement, all asylum seekers to arrive by boat will be sent to Papua New Guinea for their applications to be processed and if found to be refugees they will be settled in PNG, not in Australia.

 

The government says that might include pregnant women and children.

 

Australian Greens’ leader Christine Milne says that would expose them to potentially fatal consequencs.

 

“We’ve had health experts telling the government that children under five and pregnant women should not take anti-malarial drugs. That in children they (the drugs) can cause kidney failure, pscychiatric disturbance and in pregnant women they can cause miscarriage. The government knew that eight months ago and yet they sent women to Manus Island, six have come back pregnant women, three of them have miscarried.”

 

Immigration Minister Tony Burke says by not ruling out sending women and children to Manus Island, he’s actually taking the compassionate approach.

 

“If for example, I carved out children of a particular age, it would take about a fortnight before we saw boatloads of children of that age being pushed across the Indian Ocean and that is not a compassionate way to behave. So my policy principle is that people, everyone will end up being sent offshore, but they will be sent at a time that I am confident they are safe, that their accommodation is appropriate and that services are appropriate.”

 

But that claim is challenged by ChilOut, a lobby group that campaigns for the release of children from detention centres.

 

ChilOut campaign director Sophie Peer says Mr Burke’s claim is wrong.

 

“It’s simply not true. There’s no evidence to suggest that that would be the case. It’s just false to suggest to the Australian public that there are tens of thousands of women and children sitting on the shores of Indonesia or Malaysia waiting to jump on a boat if Australia starts having a humane policy. The boat journey is undertaken by very few people. It is a very risky journey regardless of the end place of detention or place of freedom. It’s still a journey that very few will undertake, regardless of what Australia does.”

 

Sophie Peer says local Manus Island women and children are themselves living with the dangers of malaria.

 

“Absolutely. It’s a dire health situation and if Australia is talking about being a regional leader, absolutely there is a serious malarial concern on Manus Island. It’s one of the worst places in the world for malaria and absolutely, the local children and women and the whole population are exposed to health risks and why Australia should knowingly add to that asylum seeker women and children is just beyond comprehension.”

 

Head of the Department of Social Sciences and International Studies at Curtin University Alexey Muraviev is also critical of the Labor government policy.

 

Dr Muraviev says the number of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia is only likely to increase, as the world goes through what he describes as an “era of global desperation”.

 

“We can only imagine how we would respond if this trend of desperate people trying to make their way to safety would increase five-10 fold. I think we would find ourselves in a hopeless situation and no Pacific solution, no PNG solution, no Malaysia solution will help us to deter organised criminal syndicates that engage in people smuggling or try to convince people that Australia will not accommodate them as what government is trying to sell now.”

 

Dr Muraviev also criticises the Coalition’s policy, which provides for a senior military officer to head a new multi-agency taskforce that would try to stop asylum seekers reaching Australia by boat.

 

“I think we’re just going in circles and trying to achieve a breakthrough by adopting half measures. The position also talked about using UAVs, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, as a cost affective form of protecting our, or surveilling and policing our maritime borders. I don’t think it’s a matter of who is going to have jurisdiction over the border protection. Although I think it should really be Customs and Border Protection Command, not the Navy.”